$56,000,000 For Girl Left Brain-Damaged

Publication:Staten Island Advance
Author:Jill Gardiner
Attorney(s):Thomas A. Moore
Practice Area(s):Medical Malpractice
Summary:A two-page article in the Staten Island Advance reported on the case of Beth Meyers, awarded $56 million when doctors failed to diagnose an infection that left her with permanent brain damage. Thomas Moore represented the 13-year-old girl. The Manhattan jury's verdict, after a three-week-long trial and two days of deliberations, was "one of the largest awards to a Staten Island resident."
Beth (also called Betsy) was born a triplet. Her sister Alyssa is identical to her; sister Crystal is not. Betsy and Alyssa were both born with hydrocephalus, fluid on the brain, and they both had a shunt inserted-"a tubelike device that looks like a cooked piece of spaghetti"-to drain fluid from the brain to the stomach. As the article noted: "Betsy's shunt nicked her intestine, a relatively common mishap, and E. coli bacteria began leaking into her abdomen." When the bacteria spread to her brain (the shunt provided "an ideal route" Mr. Moore said), Betsy got ventriculitis and meningitis.
Thomas Moore said Betsy's symptoms-vomiting, diarrhea, fever, and lethargy-were "glaring and the doctors should have examined the shunt immediately." Instead, the doctor who inserted the shunt said the symptoms were not serious. Another doctor said the symptoms "stemmed from an intolerance to milk and would pass."
"You see Alyssa, a student, a high honors student, and then you see her identical twin sister in a wheelchair, and the devastation hits you right between the eyes," Mr. Moore said. "She has no ability to express herself. She's like a prisoner in her own body." Betsy's mother, Gloria, is a Board of Education teaching assistant. "This doesn't change what happened to my daughter," she told the Advance. "But this will allow me to provide her with everything she needs. It's just good to know that I'll be able to make my daughter's life as comfortable as possible." She will purchase a handicap-accessible vehicle, a ramp, a stair lift, and hire speech and occupational therapists and a 24-hour aide.
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